Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Love Letters, 1947 - ten days later
In 1947, my father was 23 years old. At 23, he had been orphaned by his mother at 11, sent to live with relatives and served them in exchange for board, lodging and education, had done odd jobs, joined the army, fought in World War II, became a POW, survived the infamous 97-km Bataan Death March, gotten married at 21, and had a child at 22. Now he was taking responsibility for raising a family and trying his luck in Manila, away from the wife, my mother, and the daughter he dearly loved. He went home on weekends to my mother in Los Banos when he could. It was about 65 kms south of Manila, not far by present standards. But the days they were apart were almost unbearable for this very young couple. Read about it.
Here's another letter... (English translation at the bottom)
#10 Ruiloba, Sampaloc
February 20, 1947
My Darling Em',
Bago mo ipagpatuloy ang pagbasa sa liham kong ito na sabik na sabik nang makapiling kayo ni Fremma ay hagkan mo muna pagkat bago ko ipinadala ito ay pinupog ko muna nang mga matatamis na halik na tanging pabaon ko.
Darling, ako'y umaasa sa ating Panginoon na araw-araw ay pawa kayong mga walang karamdaman. Kung ako naman ang tatanungin ay awa rin ng ating Lumikha pagkat ako'y walang karamdaman.
Buhay ko, dinaramdam ko ang hindi pagsulat sa iyo pagdating ko rito sa Maynila noong Linggo pagkat wala akong pagkakataon. Pagdating ko rito ay nagtuloy ako kaagad sa Dimasalang at ako na lang pala ang hinihintay. Nang ako'y dumating sa bahay ay alas 10:00 na ng gabi. Sila'y nagpunta sa kasalan ng Insik kaya sila ginabi.
Em' aking giliw, kung ang lagay ko rito sa trabajo ang ibabalita ko, ay alamin mong hindi ako nasisiyahan pagkat gaano man marahil pagpipilit dumito sa Maynila kung hindi rin lamang kayo makakapiling ay ako'y malulungkot. Laging pagod ang katawan ko pagkat wala kayong umaaliw sa aking kapaguran. Lalong-lalo na pagdating sa bahay, laging nagbubulong ang Manang Belang. Ibig ko mang umuwi dian kung meron lamang mapapasukan kahit na peon lamang.
Ako'y nagpapaalam dito sa aking amo pagkat meron akong mapagtrabajoan na iba ngunit maghintay pa raw ako pagkat wala pa raw makahahalili sa akin. Hindi ko masisiguro kung makauwi ako sa linggo darating ngunit abangan mo rin ako baka sakali. Aporado yaon papasukan isa kaya't pati ako ay naghahanap din (ng) driver.
Ang isang inaayawan ko rito ay ang pagkain. Libre comida na galing sa iyong bulsa. Kung minsan wala akong pera ay nag-aantay ako ng pagkain. Ang oras ng pagkain ay ito. Ito raw ang oras ng pagkain nang mayaman. Sa umaga alas 8:00, sa tanghali alas 2:30, sa gabi alas 8:30, kayat kung umuwi ako ay alas 9:00 na. Hindi ko dinaramdam ang lampas sa oras ng pagkain ngunit ang isinasama lamang ng loob ko ay gutom ka na, lalo ka pang magugutom sa makikita mong pagkain. Naku, darling, ang sasarap. Isang platong tutong at isa at kalahating kamote. Ganon din sa gabi. Sa umaga ay isang tasang kape at 2 tinapay. Kayat kung wala na akong pera sa bulsa ay pikit mata na kung kumain ako.
Ngunit hindi bale ang lahat nang ito. Pagtama ko sa Sweepstakes ay maniwala ka Darling pakakainin ko sila sa restaurant maghapon. Alam mo bibili ako nang ticket na sigurado tama...
Darling, napapahaba yata ang sulat ko kaya't hanggang sa muli na lang. Wala na akong papel, eh! Kumusta na lamang lahat dian. Pero ito ang mahigpit na yapos at halik ko sa iyo. Kay Fremma ihalik mo rin ako nang maraming marami.
Ang asawa mong nagmamahal na walang kapantay,
#10 Ruiloba, Sampaloc
February 20, 1947
My Darlin Em',
Before you continue reading my letter, which is very anxious to be with you and Fremma, kiss it first as I kissed it many times with my sweet kisses which are all I could send with with this letter.
Darling, I am trusting our Lord every day that you will be in good health. If you ask me, by the grace of our Creator, I am also well.
My life, I am sorry for not writing you when I got here in Manila last Sunday because I had no opportunity. When I arrived, I went straight to Dimasalang and it turned out I was the only one they were waiting for. I got home at 10:00 pm. They had gone to a Chinese wedding that's why they were late.
Em' my sweetheart, talking about my work situation, know that I am unhappy because no matter how hard I try to stay here in Manila, I am lonely without you. My body is always tired because there is no one to cheer me up in my weariness. Especially when I get home, Manang Belang (older sister-in-law named Belang) is always murmuring. I want to go home if only I could find a job there even as an ordinary labourer.
I have told my boss about my plan to resign because I have found another job. He told me to wait until my replacement can be found. I am not sure if I can come home on Sunday but expect me just the same, just in case. The new employer is in a hurry to hire me so I am also looking for a driver (to take my place).
One thing I do not like here is the food. Free food that is out of your own pocket. Sometimes when I don't have the money, I wait for food. Mealtime here is like this. This is supposedly the time rich people eat. In the morning, 8:00, lunch at 2:30, supper at 8:30, that's why I leave for home at 9:00. I do not mind eating late but what I feel bad about is that you are already hungry, you become hungrier when you see the food. Oh, darling, how delicious. One plate of burnt rice and one-and-a-half sweet potatoes. It's the same for supper. For breakfast, one cup of coffee and two buns. So when I don't have money in my pocket, I eat with my eyes closed.
But I consider this nothing. When I win the Sweepstakes, believe me, Darling, I will treat them at a restaurant the whole day. You know I am going to buy a ticket that will surely win...
Darling, my letter is getting long so till next time. I have run out of paper! Regards to everyone there. But here is my tight embrace and kiss to you. Also kiss Fremma many times for me.
Your husband who loves you without equal,